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GRAMOPHONE (12/2019)
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Schütz: The Christmas story & other works Product Image

Code-barres / Barcode : 034571283159


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Reviewer: Fabrice Fitch

This attractive all-Schütz programme places his Christmas Story alongside other seasonal German and Latin-texted works, culminating in the very Venetian-sounding Magnificat setting. The Yale Schola Cantorum comprises roughly 30 singers and a dozen instrumentalists, but they sound light and bright nonetheless.

They make a fine impression in the opening Hodie Christus natus est, and the choir’s interventions are among the most telling on this CD; only when the wordsetting becomes more animated is the diction less secure. (They next appear as a group in the six-voice Ein Kind ist uns geboren, from the Geistliche Chormusik.) David Hill’s sense of shaping and narrative sweep is equally positive but cannot really compensate for the set’s major drawback, the unevenness of the soloists. This is a real shame, given how much of the argument rests on their shoulders. While nothing goes seriously awry, uncertain intonation and their diffidence in cutting loose in the more florid passages gets in the way of one’s enjoyment. That said, soprano Addy Sterrett’s timbre imparts a touch of magic to her characterisation of the Angel in the Christmas Story.

Given the available competition (not least Carus’s recently completed survey of Schütz’s entire output), an essentially sympathetic enterprise is that much harder to recommend wholeheartedly.

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